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Migrant Workers on Hit List – Silent Majority of Kashmir Needs to Speak Out

Mudasir Dar Fri, 22 Oct 2021   |  Reading Time: 4 minutes

Apart from the beautiful landscapes, endowed with heavenly mountains and hills, springs, mesmerizing water bodies and conflict, the valley of Kashmir is known for its hospitality across the globe.  The Kashmiri beauty always doesn’t lie in Mughal gardens, but rather in brotherhood and sharing equal space in a friendly space and this makes this territory different from others. The land is blessed with good-natured people, who are beautiful not only by their faces but by their hearts as well. People in the valley are very caring and they look after their guests very well.

Despite all the chaos and uncertainty over the last few decades, Kashmiris never forget to welcome the guests that come here from every nook and corner of the world or other Indian states. During the harshest of conflict-evolved circumstances and braving all odds, our tradition of serving guests has never died down. We receive and welcome our guests through every thick and thin. We have plenty of examples of how Kashmiri people upheld the brotherhood and hospitality; be it the 2014 flood, in shutdowns and curfews, or during strict COVID-19 lockdown, the Kashmiris have sacrificed their convenience to make their guests comfortable. People here consider every tourist or non-local labourer their guest and try to serve them in the best possible way.

The recent innocent killings of non-local migrants have let every one of us down.  It has shaken us deeply if not externally but internally. When the non-local poor street vendors and labourers who barely make ends meet, hundreds of kilometers away from their homes is killed, it pains. An unarmed civilian comes from Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh or any other Indian state to earn his livelihood; by making them the target of bullets it has collectively shaken the Kashmiri society.  Everyone among us is deeply pained seeing the scenes of non-local workers leaving the valley in groups due to a sense of fear of getting killed by unknown gunmen.

No religion on earth allows these things to happen, and those behind these killings are the actual cowards this valley has ever seen. It is high time we come out of our homes and start protesting against these, and save ourselves from getting blamed for being mute spectators by our Hindu brothers and sisters. We will never be able to forgive ourselves if we won’t raise our voice against this exodus.

Leaving these non-local labourers is worrisome for our society. The co-existence that we were witnessing despite all chaos over decades-long will certainly come to an end if not prevented. The need of the hour is to come out and condemn these brutal and innocent killings in every capacity we can and open the doors of our homes for them. These migrant workers are an important part of our society. At this moment we cannot afford to let them go. Our economic, social, agricultural, infrastructural support and even domestic workforce are being provided by them. They are here to make their ends meet, and like always, it becomes our duty to stand for the destitute and oppressed.

I recall some days ago when I was sitting at home, I got a call from some non-local migrant labourer who used to work in my village, to shelter him for some days as the man was frightened enough by the killings. I brought him home. The next day he got a call from the concerned police station to submit his Aadhar card. The moment he came back from the police station, he said he was leaving tomorrow. As I inquired, what happened, tears started rolling out of his eyes. As I couldn’t control my emotions, I hugged him and said goodbye to the man the next day. This man was only questioning me, “why are we being killed and for what reasons”. He has been here for the last 15 years but never witnessed what he had seen today.

We should not allow these non-local labourers to leave with a bitter taste from a region, which is known for its hospitality around the world. We should make them feel they are in the same place where they were a year or two or three years ago, by showing sympathy and offering them free space. The fear they sense this time around shall not end our relationship with the migrant workers.

The onus lies on us, to open the doors and stop the exodus. The least a common citizen of this valley can do is to condemn and protest against these killings. Our religious leaders and seminaries must come forward to stop them from leaving and show them that we care for their lives and they are quite an important part of our society.

We have seen the way Sikh and other Hindu brothers had done for the Kashmiris in the year 2019, when some Kashmiris were being asked to leave from some other part of our country, post the Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF personnel had lost their lives. The Sikh brothers in particular had opened up their gurudwaras and helped thousands of Kashmiris by providing shelter and other related things. They even facilitated the Kashmiri students out of Khalsa aid to be back to the valley.

At this crucial juncture, the migrant labourers need us and our religious organisations to safeguard them from these terrorist activities, the way they helped us and safeguarded our people in the year 2019 after the Pulwama attack. Safeguarding these people in these crucial times is what my religion teaches me and what my beloved Prophet Mohammed (SAW) has taught me about “Safety of others” and this is what Islam is about.

These people need us as much as we need them and had needed them in the past. At the same time, we should condemn and boycott the manufactured stir by some of the media houses for accusing and blaming every Kashmiri and labelling the people of Kashmir. No humane heart stands with those known or ‘unknown’, who kill the peace-loving and destitute civilians.

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Author
The author is a social activist based in South Kashmir.

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POST COMMENTS (1)

Shukti

Oct 24, 2021
Very much needed. Thanks for supporting and writing.

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